MIAMI GARDENS, Florida – After completing a predictable pummeling of Avni Yildirim, Canelo Alvarez and his trainer, Eddy Reynoso, took little time off before they went right back to work to prepare for what figures to be a much more difficult fight.
Alvarez stated last month he’d take only one week off before returning to the gym to get ready for his super middleweight title unification fight against Billy Joe Saunders on May 8 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
The Saunders fight is taking place just 10 weeks after he stopped Yildirim following three one-sided rounds on February 27 at Hard Rock Stadium. That 12-round fight for Alvarez’s WBA and WBC championships and Saunders’ WBO belt also will mark Alvarez’s third fight in less than five months.
“The fight with Saunders will be really complicated,” Reynoso said in reference to Saunders. “He works his legs really well. He throws good combinations, and he has good defense. He fights hard. I think it’s gonna be a good fight.”
Not only will Alvarez (55-1-2, 37 KOs) have little time to rest between bouts, but he’ll also face a slippery southpaw in Saunders (30-0, 14 KOs). Alvarez has had troublesome moments against left-handed opponents in the past, namely Erislandy Lara, the skillful Cuban who lost a controversial, 12-round split decision to the Mexican superstar in July 2014 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
“He’s a good fighter,” Alvarez said of Saunders. “He’s a hard fighter. He’s a southpaw and he likes to talk. But we’re gonna be ready for him, and I’m gonna train to be ready for him. I’m very motivated. Getting the titles motivates me very much.”
The 30-year-old Alvarez also will represent the toughest challenge of Saunders’ 12-year pro career.
The brash Brit is 3-0 since he moved up from middleweight to super middleweight two years ago, but he was heavily favored entering those victories over Shefat Isufi (then 27-3-2, 20 KOs), Marcelo Coceres (then 28-0-1, 15 KOs) and Martin Murray (then 39-5-1, 17 KOs). Saunders is naturally a middleweight as well, whereas Alvarez has proven to be every bit as dangerous in the 168-pound division as he was when he competed at the 160-pound limit.
Alvarez and Saunders were supposed to meet last May 2 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. That fight was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.